QueenOnLine On Tour: Following the North American Tour 2014 - Part 2
QueenOnLine On Tour: Following the North American Tour 2014 - Part 2
by Wilki Amieva
Hello again! … And if you missed Part 1, you can check it here.
Well, things got just a little bit harder… While I was in having a ‘free day’ in New York, I’ve learned that my granddad passed away, and that really hit me. I had a long phone chat with my family ASAP and they encouraged me to stay ‘on tour’, as there would be very little I could do by the date I’d finally get back to Buenos Aires - even if I could theoretically exchange my return tickets, the airline would just put me on a waiting list, with no guarantees at all, and I’d had to spend a lot of time in different airports just waiting and waiting… So I checked my options and decided to stay, which was really a difficult thing to do, considering how homesick (and tired) I felt.
The show in Uncasville was held in the Mohegan Sun complex, which is set around a real Indian casino. The actual venue seemed somewhat smaller than the others, but it was really beautiful. I got my media pass, and went straight to the spot where the photographers were supposed to be for the start of the show. Only there were none! As sometimes the photo/video people are kept in a media office until moments before the show, I asked one of the venue staff, and he said: “Well, we want to bring the photographers… Where do they usually stand? You look like you know!” I said: “Yes, I do, but you should confirm with the production staff”. The guy was escorted backstage and then came back directly to me, I looked at the head of security and he nodded, so I explained to the guy where the photographers should stay during the first three songs, what was off-limits, that they should mind the video camera and its rail, etc. Job done! Well, not really, I still had to take loads of pictures… That’s precisely the reason this show is kinda blurry to me. Anyway, before ‘Love Of My Life’ Adam prompted the audience into singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to Brian – everybody happily obliged. I couldn’t help crying a lot during the Roger’s poignant ‘These Are The Days Of Our Lives’ even into Neil’s beautiful rendition of ‘Nevermore’... but I kept clicking! I do remember that during Adam's vocal ad-libs I got pushed by a man trying to get out, I looked at him and he said: “Too many damn solos!”. Call me old-fashioned, but I do like solos and every other spot during a live concert where musicians get to improvise. Now I've noticed that in some places, solos is when most of the people leaves the hall to get (more) beer or a quick meal. I could never leave my seat once the show started, but to each its own, I guess. After the show, I met my friends and we quickly set everything for a straight, (almost) non-stop night drive to the next venue. Did I mention we rented a van?
The show in Columbia was to be the last one of the original North American dates, and the venue had a standing section between both stages - a pit, as it’s usually known. That meant an early arrival was of the utmost importance, hence the night drive (thanks Dan!). I know this is definitely a cultural thing, but I just love to experience rock live shows while STANDING as near as possible to the performers. You can wave your hands, stomp your feet, bang your head, sing your lungs out and even dance to the music with fellow fans without the seats interfering at every moment. It seems to me that the excitement and rapport are incomparable, and the actual performances are charged with some kind of special energy. In a few words, standing ROCKS! Anyway, we parked in the Merriweather Pavillion before noon, and were at the ‘gatecrashers’ early-entry queue in no time. The queue itself was an interesting experience, with queenies and glamberts alike sharing different activities such as playing Scrabble, reading Kerouak or just napping on the grass. At 6 pm the doors opened, and each of us whispered the password ‘Rhapsody’ to get in and find… another fence. At least, we could hear the soundcheck from our new location: a full-band rendition of ‘I Was Born To Love You’, Roy Orbison’s ‘Pretty Woman’ and Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Voodoo Child’, partly sung by Roger. Then we finally entered the actual venue, after some delay to get everyone a ‘tiger’ wristband, and we all got very nice spots by the B stage. Again, the show was awesome, the band really enjoyed themselves and it showed, and the crowd, well… A bra was thrown to Adam during ‘Fat Bottomed Girls’ - see what I mean? The audience was ecstatic. The only letdown was that they didn’t perform ‘The Show Must Go On’ for whatever reason, it was taken out of the set just minutes before the show.
Afterwards, we got a lot of “hey, you were in the pit!” by random people we met. It seems we were filmed a lot by the video cameras feeding the screens. Ah, sweet fame…
After saying goodbye to our British friends and one free day visiting the beautiful places the city of Washington had to offer us, we got all the way to Boston by car. The TD Garden was a big building, with a very tight security. They checked my camera bag a number of times as I was once again ‘on duty’ taking pictures. I barely made it to the show in time! Well, after the first three songs, my quota of photos for this particular show was over and I drifted to my seat, feeling how the ‘Fat Bottomed Girls’ I heard changed as I moved from one place to another. For me the sound was really sweet at this venue - it’s not an easy task to find good balance and equalisation in such a big place as this. That made me think of the things we usually overlook when they’re just fine. So I focused my attention in the little details that go unnoticed in most gigs. For example, the perfect synchronisation of all the stage hands to mount and dismount everything in the B stage at the right moment. Or Brian throwing his slide to Pete (his trusted guitar tech) after the guitar solo in ‘Radio Ga Ga’ – well, he actually failed to catch it this time! I also noticed how beautiful the lighting created by the mirror ball during ‘Who Wants To Live Forever’ is – specially as seen far from the stage. Anyway, time flied in the show, and suddenly I was in one of those typical bars surrounded by friends, fish food and Sam Adams beer. And talking about Bostonites, Brian did mention the great bands that came from this city: Aerosmith, Boston, Extreme… Great stuff.
East Rutherford, New Jersey. I went past the tailgaters and arrived at the Izod Center just in time to catch ‘I Was Born To Love You’ played again at the soundcheck. Last show I was thinking about all the little things that make up a show. Well, this time some of them didn’t go so well. To start with, the curtain didn’t go up during ‘Now I’m Here’ – it got stuck and was hanging to the middle of the stage, until all the available hands pulled it and rolled it backstage. Then, half of a somewhat nervous band missed the cue for ‘Another One Bites The Dust’ and got into ‘Fat Bottomed Girls’ instead, and when this song was actually played the ‘guitar cam’ didn’t work. Just details - the actual music was flawless during the whole concert. I suppose that when you’ve played hundreds of live gigs, your concentration might be Jedi-like! Besides taking photos, in this show I had my little job somewhat expanded into security. That meant I could take some pictures from the side of the stage, which was neat. After the gig, I met Adam again, and Rufus backstage – we talked a bit, funny guys!
Still three shows to go. May the Force be with us all!
After some sightseeing and shopping in New York City, Uncasville …revisited. This time we spent more time in the Mohegan Sun complex, a really nice place. I went to my assigned seat to find that the whole Queen Extravaganza was there! It was a blast sharing the concert experience with them, and they all really seemed to enjoy the show. Highlights for me were ‘Somebody To Love’ (which Marc Martel sang along very loudly!), ‘Under Pressure’, ‘Love Kills’, Brian’s guitar solo and ‘Tie Your Mother Down’ - complete with the ‘all your love tonight’ jam. Talking about QUEX, some of you might still catch this officially-endorsed tribute act in their forthcoming UK Tour. For tour dates and tickets, please go to: www.queenextravaganza.com/tour-and-tickets (see Nick, I’ve learned all about cross-marketing!).
From this casino to a city full of them: Atlantic City. We arrived early in the city and went directly to the beautiful Boardwalk Hall (the oldest convention center in the States, conven… iently built near the beach!), because we were told we could have a brief meeting with Brian prior to the soundcheck. This was the penultimate gig of the tour and our last chance to catch him all together. We waited backstage long enough to hear the soundcheck starting, and then we were informed that there was a change of plans. No hard feelings at all - we got to hear the band rehearsing ‘Dragon Attack’! Finally, my friends were directed to get their ‘guest’ wristbands and they went to the designated waiting area 15 minutes before the show. For me, it was more difficult, as I was taking photos during the gig, and I was supposed to wait with my camera in the media office. So I decided to leave the camera in the custody of the venue staff, and rushed my way backstage. I got there just in time to meet Neil (I had some stuff to give him from a mutual acquaintance I’ve met in New York) - he’s such a nice chap. Then the Doc arrived. I had my non-professional stereo camera with me, and he was delighted to check it out, and we even took some pictures. It’s always a pleasure to meet Brian, he really takes his time to talk with you... Only this time the show was about to start, so both Sharon (Brian’s PA) and Justine (Roger’s PA and Tour Manager) were asking him -quite nervously, I might add- if he could hurry up. We quickly said goodbye to him (thanks Arielle and Casper), and I rushed my way back to the media office, picked up my camera, and back to the front! Phew! It was Roger’s birthday today so, after Under Pressure, Adam prompted the audience into singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to his duet partner – everybody happily obliged, while Roger made some funny faces. Adam: “It’s time for a little birthday sexy. This, ladies and gentlemen, is ‘Dragon Attack’” - so the song got played after all, instead of ‘Love Kills’, and in full! A really nice surprise for all who attended - hinted only by its absence in the bass solo.
Our party of friends kept splitting as we headed to Toronto, the final stop on this leg of the tour. So back to the Air Canada Centre, but for this last time I treated myself to a first row seat, in front of the B stage. Before ‘Love Of My Life’ Brian thanked all the people involved in the production: “I wanna say a special ‘thank you’ tonight... This is sadly the last night of this tour, which… which somehow comes around very quickly - I gotta say. You see -you know- this people onstage and we work damn hard, but -I tell you what- there’s some people around us who work damn hard too, and I just wanna say ‘thank you’ to them tonight, because this crew is the most incredible crew… I’ve ever been on a tour where every single soundcheck, every single gig is on time. These guys are amazing. The sound guys, the light guys, the production team… Thank you, guys, Queen and Adam Lambert road crew!” ...And well deserved they have it. ‘Dragon Attack’ once again replaced ‘Love Kills’, and ‘The Show Must Go On’, quite aptly, returned to the setlist. About to start his vocal improvisations, Adam discovered a thong on the floor: “What’s THIS onstage? …Is this for a man or a woman? That’s for A MAN!? Great, I’d take that for later...” - the place erupted with laughter, of course. By the way, the crowd was loud, the atmosphere superb, the music flowed, and before I realised it, it was time for the encores. I saw the band take their bows for the fourteenth time in three weeks while the whole place resounded to ‘God Save The Queen’. Indeed, but for me there were mixed feelings - a mixture of joy, tiredness, sadness and relief... And thankfulness.
During the gigs, just before ‘Somebody To Love’, and accompanied only by Spike ‘The Duke’ Edney on a subtle piano, Adam wonders why sometimes we act like we do. Is it out of a feeling of emptiness? A void we need to fulfill somehow? Hmmm… Is that what makes me travel to the other side of the world to follow a band whose music I’ve loved since I can remember? Well, who knows… After 12500 miles by plane, 1800 miles by bus, 1100 miles by car, 560 miles by van, 340 miles by train, 23 days, 18 cities, 14 gigs, 12 venues, 70 pints of beer (approximately) and literally thousands of photos all I can say is that it was worth it. Long live Queen + Adam Lambert!!!